Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.3c Mediterranean annual-rich dry grassland

Mediterranean annual-rich dry grassland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.3c
Threat status
Europe Near Threatened
EU Near Threatened
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

These grasslands are composed mainly by short annual plants with a short winter-spring vegetative cycle. There is a large inter-annual variation in the development of plant communities that is attributed to climatic fluctuations and especially to the amount of precipitation during spring; usually in summer they become dry. They grow mainly in the Mediterranean macrobioclimate, extending into the Temperate one, but mostly within its Submediterranean variant. These nano-therophytic, often ephemeral, communities exhibit extremely rich plant diversity that is mainly composed by species of the families Leguminosae, Rubiaceae, Compositae, Umbelliferae and Gramineae. Consequently, the high plant species diversity results in a high communities' diversity. Floristic composition and plant diversity of these communities depends on geographical location, substrate, climatic factors and human activities. Most of them are pioneer, xerophytic, basophilous communities that develop on various substrata (limestone, clay, gypsum, dolomite, serpentines, mafic) with lithosols or slightly euptrophic soils. Occasionally, they occupy areas close to the sea, regardless of the substrate. The grasslands of this habitat type are found mainly in South Mediterranean countries and are considered as an ultimate stage in the degradative succession of xeric Mediterranean forests and shrub communities. Traditional practices such as logging, fires and grazing led to the degradation of forests and evergreen scrublands of the Mediterranean area, which gradually turned to grasslands. Abandonment of the traditional practices, mainly of grazing, facilitates the encroachment of woody species, a fact that may alter the character of this grassland habitat type.

Indicators of good quality:

  • extensive grazing, without signs of abandonment,
  • absence of crevice-like erosion,
  • absence (or low cover) of nitrophilous species,
  • absence of signs of secondary succession (e.g. encroachment of chamaephytes or shrub species)

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat is assigned to the category Near Threatened (NT) for both EU28 and EU28+, because of a significant qualitative decrease. However, this trend is accompanied by a slight quantitative decrease and is based on relatively few data, with quality data lacking for Spain, the country that reported the largest area. Due to the habitat's wide distribution, the Extent of Occurence is very large. On the other hand, the Area of Occupancy is relatively small, but still too high for the assignment of a hgher threat level. It should be considered, however, that the sites actually covered by these short-sized annual grasslands are patchy and very restricted and they may be easily overestimated.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened CD1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened CD1

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Grassland removal for arable land
    • Intensive grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest planting on open ground
  • Natural System modifications
    • Fire and fire suppression
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

This habitat generally develops on shallow rocky soils, even in conditions of strong erosion, so it can rapidly re-colonize empty surfaces, provided that the successional processes are blocked by extensive grazing or controlled fire.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

A balanced management including extensive grazing and controlled fire can represent an effective way to maintain this habitat type. Promotion and even reintroduction of the traditional pastoral systems is nowadays the only realistic approach for a correct conservation of these annual dry grasslands.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
    • Manage landscape features

Distribution

For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

EU28 Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Bulgaria Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 420 Unknown Stable
Crete Present 420 Unknown Stable
East Aegean Present 420 Unknown Stable
Italy mainland Present 244 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 244 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 244 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 200 Unknown Stable
Portugal Azores Uncertain 200 Unknown Stable
Madeira Uncertain 200 Unknown Stable
Savage Islands Uncertain 200 Unknown Stable
Spain mainland Present 819 Decreasing Decreasing
Balearic Islands Present 819 Decreasing Decreasing
Canary Islands Uncertain 819 Decreasing Decreasing
Malta Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Cyprus Present 23 Unknown Unknown
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 6 Decreasing Decreasing
Albania Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kosovo Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 2389800 434 1,706
EU28+ 447 1,712
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

Not available

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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